Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The best thing about owning your own bookstore?

Ann Patchett
The best thing about owning your own bookstore?  According to author Ann Patchett (owner of Nashville's Parnassus Books) its the "enormous boon it was to her lifelong preoccupation with forcing books on people."  According to this article in The Washington Post, Patchett has been "forcing books on people" since she was a little girl:
After all, I’ve been telling people what to read since I was able to recognize words on paper. I was the kid extolling the virtues of “Charlotte’s Web” in the school cafeteria. “Fern saves the runt from being killed,” I told my friends. “And so her father lets her keep him.”
And now that Patchett is beyond all the logistics of getting her bookstore up and running, she finds that her greatest pleasure comes from introducing readers to her favorite books, be they new or old ones:
They’ll walk right up to me and say, “I’m looking for a book.” I wait for a minute, thinking surely there’s going to be more to that sentence — “I’m looking for a book I heard about on the radio” or “I’m looking for a book like ‘The Goldfinch’ ” — but often there is nothing else. They just smile up at me, trusting and curious, waiting to follow my instructions. It makes my heart soar.
Parnassus Books, Nashville
 I'm in the planning stages for my annual road trip during which I wander randomly in an eastwardly direction exploring towns and cities I've never (or seldom) had the opportunity to visit before.  This year (as I did two years ago), I am going to spend four days in Columbus, Ohio, at the Musicians Against Childhood Cancer benefit concert.  But on the way there, and especially on the return trip home, I will be doing some serious wandering around.  Some years I concentrate specifically on baseball parks or Civil War battle sites, but I've never really done a trip focused on indie bookstores.  Maybe this is the year finally to do that bookstore tour - before anymore of them disappear forever,

So now comes the planning bit...which amounts to nothing more than a list of indie bookstores and their locations and hours.  Then as I travel (not completely) aimlessly through a dozen or so states during my return to Houston, I will be able to use the list as a heads-up to which bookstores are in the general area.  

First store on the new list will be, of course, Ann Patchett's Parnassus Books...


  1. Sounds like you have a great fun trip in the works! You will have to be sure to tell us all about the bookshops especially Parnassus!

    1. I'm hoping it all works out. Just downloaded an app for my phone that locates all bookstores within a 35-mile radius of my physical location. It can also be used to do a little of the research I need to do before I leave in mid-July. Now just need to get the homework done.

  2. This is such a great idea. I love sussing out local indie shops when we travel. I am always amazed at how much character each shop has (and characters, if you take time to chat up the help). The shops are always great places to pick up a souvenir. I also find it amusing how so many shops all have the same books in the remainders bin. When something tanks - it sinks from coast to coast, it seems. Sounds like a great trip and the homework sounds fun as well.

  3. The research is going kind of slow so far, Trav. I'm starting to wonder if word-of-mouth, area by area, is going to be the way that I pinpoint the bookstores I hope to find. I've been playing around with that phone app I mentioned (within a 50-mile radius of my home) and it works well, so it will be a big help, too. I'll be leaving in just over 6 weeks...